By Jefferson G Togba
USA-While we’re still living through uncertainty amidst a global public health crisis and high unemployment rate in Liberia, it is important to look at one sector which will help reduce the level of unemployment in Liberia.
Do not think that despite small beginning, it may not work; but history has informed us that Lofa was once the food basket of Liberia like many counties. Arguably, the county produced surpluses than any county prior to our senseless Civil conflict that lasted 14 years. So Lofa is called Liberia’s food giants.
It might surprise many to know that Liberia is mostly dependent on agriculture in Africa, however, there’s a huge challenge in feeling ourselves ,world atlas data,2015. The report clearly identified 76.9% of Liberia GDP comes from agricultural activities, while the sector accounts for 68% labor force.
With that information, outside of agriculture Liberia economy will not actually be impressive.
The Civil upheaval plagued many sectors, but agriculture can’t be overemphasized to the extent of devastation.
In Liberia, rubber is the major cash crop, whereas palm oil is rated second as mentioned in the report. The two sectors yielded 14 million in trade surplus in 2001. It is not strange to have many citizens aggressively engaged into rubber and palm growing activities.
The world ranked agriculture percentage contribution to GDP as indicated below. Liberia ranks the top of these countries: Liberia number one; Liberia 76.9%, number two Somalia 60.2%, number three; Guinea-Bissau 55.8%, number four; The Central Africa Republic 53.1%, number five; Chad 52.7%, number six; Comoros 51.6%, number seven; Sierra Leone 51.5% , number eight; Togo 46.0%, number nine; Ethiopia 41%, number ten; Niger 39%, number eleven; Mali 38.8%, number twelve; Burma ( Myanmar) 38.2%, number 13; Democratic Republic of Congo 37.5%, number 14 Benin 36.% and number 15 Nepal 34.9%.
Liberia has one of the suitable climates for agricultural purposes with well drained rain forest soils ideal for tree cultivation. More than 60% of the world’s population depends and survives on agriculture, FAO 2015 report.
Leaders are goal setters and great achievers by examples. Look at the word “Leader”. “LEADER IS THE PERSON WHO LEADS OR COMMANDS A GROUP, ORGANIZATION, OR COUNTRY”.
In our case, Liberia as a country and leaders must set the stage to increase development, growth through sustainable policies and programs. The question us before is, When do we use our own resources and money for our common benefit? Agriculture is one area to push priority harder.
Agriculture could lower unemployment if National government takes value and interest in the sector seriously.
The unemployment rate increases if the rate of growth of real output is less than the rate of growth of the labor force, plus the rate of increase of labor productivity.
The President must make farming National demand and priority; starting with the chief executive and his cabinet ministers. Not leaving out the vice president too. Have we failed to try or we just don’t care? Grow what we eat. Agriculture won’t disappoint National engagement and effort.
Not compulsory for the president to farm, however, this could alleviate and reduce the national rate of unemployment.
We don’t live to only eat, but a filled man can literally focus well and dream better. Agriculture might create jobs. This style of providing jobs for citizens may not be so sophisticated, yet can greatly help. Why stakeholders don’t do the least for themselves? Public Officials should engage into crops and raising livestock.
The rationale and focus why this is written is that Liberia has more than 12 Ministries and other public corporations and state Owned Enterprise. Given ministers and their two principles Deputies when engage into agricultural activities, there will be huge level of employment.
It’s also established that some Ministries have more than four principles Deputies.
In fact, those government officials won’t cultivate the farm land neither plant nor harvest by themselves, but hired individuals within their farming counties and or communities.
Additionally, the executive appoints 15 superintendent and two assistant superintendents to each county. Let me issue a caveat here ; Let it be known that no government officials abuse their power and Authority or either coerce citizens to work free of charge while engaging into farming activities.
In furtherance to reducing unemployment, agricultural efforts must also give thought to including city major, district and paramount chiefs as well as clan chiefs.
Also, weigh on the judiciary branch to support farming venture where each can promote local employment. The Chief Justice and Associate Justices must lead farming engagement with every judiciary appointee.
Meanwhile, sources point at members of the national legislature for receiving money from National Budget for Agricultural Break so far we haven’t see any farm duly identified that locally employed districts members. Is it wrong to use our money to promote growth through employment? Our people are not election materials. Citizens are important every day before and after elections. Don’t share money, but create economic empowerment.
On the other hand, corruption continues to scare away investors and their investments thereby compelling fewer and smaller foreign companies to scale down drastically and many have closed. Therefore, the responsibilities are with Liberians to provide and narrow the employment gap.
Presently, Liberia has 103 lawmakers; 30 are senators in the upper house and 73 are representatives in the lower house of parliament. Why do we always look up to others for everything when we can do it? Liberian stakeholders must create opportunities for employment.
We can’t depend largely on foreign direct investment and foreign Portfolio investment when governance system isn’t trusted. Liberians must do it themselves, starting with public officials.
Besides those with extraordinary interests in agriculture before they became parliamentarians. For example, Hon. Edwin Melvin Snowe, Jr and Hon. J Oscar Cooper. Maybe some of which we don’t know of. I mentioned these parliamentarians because their engagement is an open fact that everyone knows.
The first branch of government must sustain and grow the economy because they drain resources annually through huge remuneration, benefits and even Stipend to do their jobs.
Multiple 103 farms in different counties and hire at least 15 persons per lawmaker, then calculate the Multiplier effects amongst different families, districts and communities.
Suggested 15 employees because we don’t have machineries and advance farming techniques. They must purchase their farm land and observe deforestation laws like India.
They can’t farm everywhere, every time, but maintain farm land. So purchase your land.
Even the university of Liberia must return to its pre war agriculture initiative like Fendell palm project and other, if any.
The Liberia Marketing Association and the federal road transport unions should get deeply involve and account for revenue collection.
In summary, to my opinion, the Ministry of Agriculture and National Fisheries and Agriculture Authority (NaFAA) be obliged to act beyond developing guidelines and framework but become practical to change the dynamics of agriculture and food on the local market.
However, I put it to you today, show me countries without adequate food, quality education and wonderful health where the people prosper. These are the pillars for strong and sophisticated nation’s economy.
China ,India and the United are heavily engaged in agriculture. The Bible said ” My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. Lack of knowledge”: “of God” (Hosea 4:1).
Therefore, I will say Liberians don’t listen because they are very hungry. They don’t care because their survival is really tough. No food, neglecting education and above No healthy peoples.
The immediate cause of the recession that became the Great Depression was the collapse of private investment. At the moment, the private sector isn’t investing in Liberia. Therefore unemployment remained high for the Liberian economy.
Use agriculture to reduce unemployment with the minimum. The wait and see system have not really helped since independence. Liberia wait no more to do what you can do